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Fram Kitagawa, the "redoubtable" Japanese curator who espouses art's return to slow, rural values as opposed to urban, market systems, has been denied a visa by US officials, he said, according to a press release from the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.

Kitagawa was scheduled to give a keynote address for this week's three-day conference on Socially Engaged Art in Japan, sponsored by the Simpson Center.

Kaitlin Turck, spokesperson for the US Consular Affairs Office, would not confirm or deny Kitagawa's assertion that he was denied a visa because visa records are confidential, she wrote in an email.

The Simpson Center press release says:

According to Kitagawa, he was denied a visa by U.S. authorities because of his involvement more than 45 years ago in protests against a U.S. military base expansion in Sunagawa. He was never prosecuted or convicted of any crime. He supplied documents to the embassy prepared by Japan's Ministry of Justice and the head of the National Police attesting to his innocence, but he was still refused a visa, according to conference organizer Justin Jesty, assistant professor of Asian Languages & Literature.

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Kitagawa is a powerful force in art in Japan, head of two of its largest events (Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Setouchi Triennale) and a professor at Joshibi University of Art & Design. His latest book, published in English just a week ago by Princeton Architectural Press, is Art Place Japan: The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Vision to Reconnect Art and Nature.

“It is outrageous that Fram Kitagawa, an internationally celebrated curator of socially engaged art in Japan, was just denied a visa to the U.S. to deliver the opening keynote at our scholarly conference on art and politics," said Kathleen Woodward, director of the Simpson Center and professor of English.

On Thursday night, rather than giving a lecture live and in person, Kitagawa will deliver a video address, and conference organizer Jesty will present Kitagawa's original talk, "along with comments on the state of U.S.-Japan relations." The event is 7 pm at the Henry Art Gallery. The conference continues through Saturday with more than 20 scholars, artists, and curators, including Sharon Daniel of UC Santa Cruz, new UW art history professor Adair Rounthwaite, new UW art professor Michael Swaine, UW's Tad Hirsch, and writer Adrian Favell. The full schedule of events with descriptions of papers is here. Everything is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

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